Broke and looking to cut spending, the Philadelphia School District announced a list of demands of teachers this week that would cut back on seniority, extra pay for extra work, and access to water fountains. The givebacks include:
Schools with more than 1,000 students would no longer be required to have librarians or librarian assistants.
Schools would no longer be required to have counselors, and counselors' caseloads would no longer be capped.
Teachers could be assigned to unlimited classes outside their subject area, and high school teachers could be assigned an extra class without pay. There would be no limit on amount of consecutive time taught in a school day.
There would be no limit on class size. (Current limits are 30 for the lower grades and 33 for the upper grades, large class sizes by anyone's measure.)
This being the very first proposal towards a new contract, it's assumed that the School Reform Commission (a state-appointed board that controls the Philly school district and has pushed for Charter and business-friendly changes in the miserably underfunded school system) will budge on some of these points, but probably not on the larger ones, including eliminating elevated pay categories for teachers with advanced degrees and instituting a longer work day for less pay.
It's not known whether the School Reform Commission will actually negotiate with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (whose contract expires in August), or if they can simply impose these terms on them.
Philadelphia could very well be heading towards a teachers strike on the level of Chicago's last fall, except that the state suspended their right to strike after taking over control from the city in 2001.